The Yakima Valley in Washington State, is the United States top producer of peppermint and spearmint oils. According to the Washington Mint Commission, one pound of mint oil can flavor 12,500 sticks of gum or 1000 tubes of toothpaste. In 2008, more than 1.9 million pounds of peppermint oil and nearly 1.8 million pounds of spearmint oil were produced.
How mint oil is made; The mint crop is grown in fields, cut like hay and left to cure for two to five days. The plants are steamed in tubs to release the oils, which become vapor. The steam runs through the condenser which returns it to liquid form, the oil then gets separated from the water.
One doesn't usually think about where mint comes from, but we use mint in so many items, at least once a day. The next time you brush your teeth, use mouthwash, eat a peppermint patty, chew gum or enjoy a Mint Mojito, you have probably tasted a bit of the Yakima Valley. Peppermint and spearmint are used in Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream, After Dinner Mints, Peppermint Sticks, Lifesavors, Peppermint Water, Mint Jelly, as a garnish, soaps, scrubs, air freshens and anything else you can think of that contains mint..
Traveling though the Yakima Valley you will want to experience the local Mint Mojito. Visit Gasparettis, Zesta Cucina, 2nd Street Grill, and Tony's Steak House for this refreshing beverage.